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For the past nine years, Suplex has helped define South Street as Philly’s destination for streetwear. Spread across four different storefronts all within one square block, the brand doesn’t try to impress — and that’s helped it gain a following.
Co-owners Mike Molino and Chris Kindig, whose low-key attitude makes their store all about comfort and fun, have become friendly with several celeb clients over the years.
Action Bronson, for example, who featured Suplex on his TV show. Meyhem Lauren, whose song “Badmon Ting” has the lyric: “Touch down in Philly, cop sneakers from Suplex.” Usher and Lil Uzi Vert are also customers, per Molino, as are several members of the Philadelphia Eagles.
“We have videos with people that would go viral instantly,” he said. “But we aren’t gonna put that shit out there because this is their safe zone, where they can come watch YouTube for 5 hours.”
After meeting in 2011 at a different shoe store, Molino and Kindig decided to team up. Their high-end sneaker consignment shop launched two years later, near 6th and South. It turned out to be a great fit for the South Street corridor, which for decades has gone through a boom-bust cycle where the youth-centered business model doesn’t always support retail stability.
Molino and Kindig, both 37, are now building on their success. Within the past year and a half, they expanded to three other shops; Suplex Vintage on South 5th Street, Suplex Sneakers near 5th and South, and Suplex Sports Cards on Bainbridge.
The stores offer everything from PS4s to Anti-Social Social Cub hoodies and Telfar bags. There are sneakerhead dream pieces like Chunky Dunks, every color of Jordan 1’s, and the $50k Eminem x Carrhart x Air Jordan 4.
Pieces in general aren’t cheap, ranging from a $60 t-shirt to upwards of $7,000 for a jacket. But there are seasonal sales, which feature cash giveaways, food, and surprise gifts. The next one is Saturday, April 30.
Suplex Sneakers also has a $1 shoe grab, where customers have a chance to pull from a claw machine. If you win but the shoe isn’t your size or style, you can trade or cash it in.
Both biz partners said they’ve always loved sneakers and sneaker culture, but it manifested in different ways. Kindig was a huge sports fan and Michael Jordan stan. Molino just liked shoes. Every Thursday, when he didn’t have to wear his uniform, he remembers trading his afternoon snacks for a chance to wear his friend’s Jordan Infared 6’s during gym class.
“I think it was just being obsessed with vintage sneakers as a kid, finding pairs of these,” Molino said, pointing down to his Nike Airmax 90’s.
The duo wants the store to maintain that vibe, where people visit for the love of the goods, and don’t feel pressure, but think of it as a place to hang out.
Customer Arlind Alimadhi, 26, said he’s been coming to Suplex since his early college days at La Salle University. He and friends would come down to South Street every other weekend to chill at the store simply because the “vibe is cool.”
“Yeah, it’s high quality clothing — but you feel like a sense of home,” said Alimadhi, a South Philly native. “They’re [some] of my favorite people I’ve met on South Street, because they’re people that actually care about the scene, that care about fashion.”
Each Suplex outpost is slowly growing and evolving.
Suplex Archive is opening up their back room to house one-of-a-kind holy grail pieces, while Suplex Vintage is opening a wrestling section with belts, toys and collectibles, as a spot where neighborhood kids and wrestling superfans can hang out.
The partners said they try to give back by hosting giveaways, donating to area schools, and hiring people from the neighborhood.
“I always thought I had to be an accountant, and now I’m able to do this,” Molino said, reflecting on how lucky he feels. “We’re able to do something that can get people consistently paid, where they have work to do, and they have fun doing it.”